The second running camp during the month of August was with the BMC runners. After Spartan running camp, I scrambled to get my CDL, make plans, grocery shop, and gather tents and supplies for a camping trip to the Smoky Mountains.
We took a trip to Gatlinburg, TN with the intention of creating team unity. The trip was good in many ways. The weather was great, the scenery was beautiful, and a few of the runners really appreciated the work, expense, and good intentions behind the trip.
We stayed at Jellystone Campground, which was the same place our family stayed last Thanksgiving. The campground connects to the Smoky Mountain National Park, and many of our runs began with a direct ascent up the mountain!
Our campsites were right beside the stream running through the campground. The stream was a great way to cool off after a run!
We had 3 tents plus a food tent. Our breakfasts and lunches were very simple and from the cooler, and dinners were cooked in crock pots.
The day of utter exhaustion included a long run on the mountain and a hike that went from 8 miles to 13... The bus couldn't drive all the way up to the trail head, and so we hitched a ride in the back of a truck. On our way down, we walked several extra miles before coming to a car willing to take us to the bus. Taking a break on the way down
The hike was worth it (in my opinion), because the view at the top was amazing... The old growth forest and waterfall were breathtaking!
We also got to take a whitewater rafting trip! Although several runners were nervous, it was a fun day and everyone really enjoyed this part of the trip.
I learned on this trip that coaching at the college level is different from my group of Spartans. I had hoped that the trip would bring the team together and get everyone excited about the upcoming season in the same way that camp had seemed to help the Spartans. I am afraid that this trip just wore everyone out, sent the freshmen into shock, and united quite a few runners against me. I am not sure if we will be taking another team bonding trip! However, there were some encouraging things about the trip. I love the mountains, I love tent camping, and it was great to see some spiritual maturity from some of the runners!